A Visit from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Oh teacher friends - I am just oozing with excitement about sharing this special day with you.  We had a visit from the green guy himself - The Very Hungry Caterpillar!  This was my first every classroom transformation as part of a teaching activity and I'm hooked!  It truly took an amazing book and lesson and turned it into an experience that my students will never forget.  It was an amazing day filled with lots of laughs, excitement and let's not forget the learning.

I want to share with you all that we did so that you can have a special learning experience too!  In case you have not heard of classroom transformations, they have become more and more popular in the last few years.  The idea is to transform your transform your classroom into an experience in order to engage your learners into a learning experience that becomes personal, first hand and hands-on.

So here's the quick summary version of Caterpillar Day!


  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar stopped by our classroom and lost all his food!  He asked for our help in finding it - so we ventured out on a scavenger hunt to find all the food he lost.
  • We made the Hungry Caterpillar fruit salad and then ate all his food!  Oops!  
  • We had to run to the grocery store to buy more food for him!
  • We were invited into his home for the Very Hungry Caterpillar Picnic!  

Along the way we worked on skills in reading, writing, math and science.  We also practiced good sportsmanship, critical thinking skills and creativity.  Sound like fun?  Just keep reading to find out how to create your own Caterpillar Day!  By the way, this would be a great special day to end a science unit on caterpillars and butterflies, an author study on Eric Carle, or just to make an ordinary day extraordinary!  :-)

The Kinderhearted Classroom Caterpillar Day

Creating The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day

Let's just take a quick second for some #realtalk.  I was anxious about this day.  It was my first ever classroom transformation and I wanted it go well.  But - I knew there was a lot to do and I initially allowed myself to get a little overwhelmed.  However, I quickly learned that with a little planning I could pull this off without the stress and anxiety.  And . . . You Can Too! I'm going to walk you through  e v e r y t h i n g!!!

A Couple Weeks in Advance . . .

Once you get your Caterpillar Day scheduled, there are a few things I suggest you do in advance.  First, notify your parents of the special day and solicit help.  I sought out borrowing a few Little Tykes Car for our grocery shopping relay race.  Parents also signed up to bring everything we needed for our Caterpillar Fruit Salad (including all the paper goods)! And, I was even able to get a few parents to come in and help that day too!

One Week in Advance . . .

About a week in advance, start copying and preparing the cards and papers you will need for the activities.  We completed a couple of whole class activities (scavenger hunt and grocery relay race) and then 5 small group centers.  Depending on your available time you would do all or just some of these.

I spend my time the week before our special day copying, cutting and laminating.  By having it all done in advance I was less stressed because I knew it was ready to do.  AND, after you do it once, you will be able to save many of the items for use in future years. Bonus!!!

The Day Before . . .

Actually, the evening before, after school, I worked on getting the room transformation done.  I was actually able to use an extra room at school for this part, but if that is not an option, setting it up in your classroom is just perfect.  I was able to cover all the walls with green tablecloths.   As I envisioned the day, I thought about the caterpillar and the cocoon.  I decided to create the Hungry Caterpillar's home as the focus of our transformation.  I used inexpensive green plastic tablecloths to hang from the ceiling in order to make the room look like the caterpillar's home and not a classroom. 

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Then I used the red and white gingham tablecloths to lay out a space for each of the center activities.  This worked really well in helping the students see the space for each activity, while totally keeping with the idea of a caterpillar picnic!

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Last, I used two green tunnels as the entrance into the caterpillar's home.  Put together, the total tunnel was about 12 feet in length. It was the perfect way to add a little suspense and anticipation.  The kids did not know that the room looked different, so it was an amazing surprise as they emerged from the tunnel.  Seeing their wide eyes and smiles made my teacher heart so full!

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

The Morning of . . .

On the morning of our special day I arrived about an hour early in order to get the cards for our scavenger hunt set up.  I also got everything set-up for the grocery store relay game.  Since everything was already prepared, it was just a matter of putting it in its place.

Let the Learning Begin!

As my students came into the classroom (our real classroom, not the transformed room) I told them that we had a visitor last night that left us a note.  I read the note from The Very Hungry Caterpillar who told us that he had lost all his food.  He asked for our help and left us a clue to find his food.  This was the start of our scavenger hunt.  We followed the clues through the school and helped find all his food.  Then we returned to our classroom and made Caterpillar Fruit Salad.  

We enjoyed the fruit salad as our morning snack.  Then came the realization . . .

"Oh no!  We ate all the caterpillar's food!"  We decided that the best thing to do was head to the grocery story (aka the blacktop) and buy him some new food. So we headed outside to do our grocery store relay race.  




As part of this relay race, students were divided into small teams or groups using these super cute aprons.  

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Each team received a grocery list and in relay fashion had to 'drive' to the grocery store to buy a food.

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Each team had a small basket that they took to the store.  Inside the basket was the grocery list and an expo maker.  As they found a food from their list, they marked it off and returned the food back to their team.




Then the next person went to shopping. They took turns buying foods until everything on the list was found.

It was time to take the food to the caterpillar's picnic.  So we headed inside to our special room - the one I transformed.  As I prepared the kids to enter the caterpillar's home, they lined up to crawl one by one through the tunnel.  As they reached the end of the tunnel their eyes lit up as they ventured into the caterpillar's home.

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day
  
I had the joy of greeting them inside and seeing all those smiling eyes!  I then took each student to an activity center and got them ready for our learning stations.  The ability to take each student to the right place helped the entering of the room remain exciting, special and in control.

The students then completed each of the 5 learning stations.  Each station took about 15 minutes.  I only had four groups of students, so the extra station was perfect if a group finished quickly.  Next year, I am thinking of adding a 6th station for quiet reading too.

As we finished our centers, we ended our caterpillar day.  But that didn't end the fun or the learning.  As we headed back to our classroom for lunch, you could hear lots of reminiscing about the morning.  The students were even pointing out the items in their lunch that the caterpillar ate.  It was truly a special day filled with memories.

The Centers

Here's a little run-down of the 5 centers we did inside the caterpillar's home.

1.  Healthy Food Sort 

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Using both toy food and food cards the students sorted foods into groups of healthy food and unhealthy food.  They they had the opportunity to work on writing their lists of food.

2.  Listening Center



We couldn't have the Very Hungry Caterpillar Day without the book.  Since I knew that I could not be in all places at once, I decided to record myself reading the book to the students.  The students had a copy of the book and they followed along as I read.  They also completed some reading response activities for the book.

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

3.  Math Center & Caterpillar Craft

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Next the students went to a math center.  Since we were working on the skill of counting to 20, the students counted out 20 beads in order to make their own caterpillar.  This is a great activity to work on colors or patterning too!

4.  Caterpillar Hat

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

In this center students worked on cutting skills and following directions as they put together their very own caterpillar hat.  They loved them and wore them with pride all day!


5.  Caterpillar Soup (aka Slime)

This was a super fun science center.  I used a very easy slime recipe that was completed in just 4 steps.  I created a card for each step. Students drew a card and then took turns working together to make the slime - I mean Caterpillar Soup.  

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

Then they used their five senses to describe the slime.  It was a fantastic science lab!  

The Kinderhearted Teacher caterpillar day

A Day that Won't Soon be Forgotten!

Our Very Hungry Caterpillar Day was a huge success.  The students were so engaged in their learning  and it gave them the opportunity to live, first-hand, the story.  I left that day #teachertired but it was worth it!

So, if you have been thinking about a classroom transformation activity - I'd encourage you to give it a try!

The Kinderhearted Classroom Caterpillar Day

The Kinderhearted Classroom Caterpillar Day


The Kinderhearted Classroom Caterpillar Day

The Kinderhearted Classroom Caterpillar Day

The Kinderhearted Classroom Caterpillar Day



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